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Moscow tests human bird flu vaccine

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"We have started tests on 120 volunteers," said Vitaly Zverev, the head of the Mechnikov Vaccine and Serum Research Institute. "They are mainly medical staff, doctors and donors. They are all healthy adults aged between 18 and 45."

MOSCOW, May 30 (RIA Novosti) - Trials on humans of a bird flu vaccine have begun in Moscow, a senior doctor said Tuesday.

Although the deadly disease has claimed no human lives in Russia, around 1.1 million birds have died and 300,000 have been culled to control the spread of the virus since the beginning of February.

"We have started tests on 120 volunteers," said Vitaly Zverev, the head of the Mechnikov Vaccine and Serum Research Institute. "They are mainly medical staff, doctors and donors. They are all healthy adults aged between 18 and 45."

"All rules have been observed, the vaccination program has by approved by an ethics committee, all volunteers have been insured," Zverev said. He added that the volunteers' health would be monitored until mid-August.

Tests of the vaccine are also under way at the St. Petersburg-based Influenza Research Institute.

Anton Katlinsky, the director of vaccine developer Mikrogen, said volunteers in the city would be paid up to $190.

The developers of the vaccine said it presented no danger to the volunteers and scientists underlined that the vaccine had been created on the basis of a non-pandemic H5N1 bird flu strain.

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